Sunday, January 09, 2022

NAPLAN analysis shows no difference in effectiveness between public, private schools

This analysis is not fair dinkum. Below is the journal abstract:

A higher proportion of students are privately educated in Australia, compared with many other nations. In this paper, we tested the assumption that private schools offer better quality education than public schools. We examined differences in student achievement on the National Assessment Programme: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) between public, independent, and catholic schools. Cross-sectional regressions using large samples of students (n = 1583–1810 ) at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 showed few sector differences in NAPLAN scores in any domain. No differences were evident

*after controlling for socioeconomic status and prior NAPLAN achievement*.

Using longitudinal modelling, we also found no sector differences in the rate of growth for reading and numeracy between Year 3 and Year 9. Results indicate that already higher achieving students are more likely to attend private schools, but private school attendance does not alter academic trajectories, thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes.

Removing the influence of prior NAPLAN scores should not have been done. The results are what they are and removing prior NAPLAN scores is irrelevant and distorting. Prior NAPLAN scores are NOT an influence on current score. They are just a correlate of it. Removing prior scores is a powerful way to remove differences so it is no wonder that no differences were found

Soioeonomic status, on the other hand IS a cause of achievement and removing its influence is therefore informative.

It looks like the equalitarian ideology of the researchers has triumphed over reality

A major study of NAPLAN results over time found only slight differences in scores between the three school sectors, and these differences disappeared once a student’s family background was considered.

An analysis of students’ improvement between years 3 and 9 also found no variation between the private and public sector, “thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes”, the researchers found.

The research team, led by Sally Larsen from the University of New England, looked at the NAPLAN results of more than 1500 students who were involved in the national testing program in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

They found no difference in average achievement between the three school sectors in primary school, except that year 5 students in public schools performed slightly better in numeracy than those in Catholic schools.

Year 7 and 9 students at independent schools were slightly ahead, but their “apparent advantage … disappeared after including SES [socio-educational status],” said the report, published in the journal The Australian Educational Researcher on Tuesday.

“Results such as these highlight that school sector is not a strong predictor of basic skills achievement, and suggest that it is the social background and academic ability of children who attend private schools which support the appearance of better quality schooling.”

Dr Larsen said the researchers wanted to explore whether private schools improved student outcomes, given NAPLAN is billed as a way to evaluate the extent to which schools contribute to students’ literacy and numeracy skills.

A student’s background - particularly their parents’ education levels - is a strong predictor of their academic achievement. However, many parents do not take this into account when they look at the strong academic results from high-fee private schools.

The study’s findings can reassure parents that “it’s OK if you can’t afford private schooling”, Dr Larsen said.

“The largest predictor of academic achievement in NAPLAN is previous achievement in NAPLAN. If we accept NAPLAN does assess something about the basic achievement of students, then the school sector is not going to make a large amount of difference.”

The study’s results echo those from earlier research.

A 2018 analysis from the Grattan Institute, a think tank, found attending a public or private school had little impact on how fast a student progressed in NAPLAN.

The results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test sat by students across the OECD, found there was no difference in the reading or science achievement between the school sectors once results were adjusted for socioeconomic background.

In maths, government schools slightly outperformed Catholic schools for the first time.

Peter Goss, who did the Grattan analysis, said Dr Larsen’s study used a different approach but came to the same basic conclusion.

“After taking account of socio-economic factors, Australia’s three school sectors show no meaningful difference in the rate of student learning progress in NAPLAN reading and numeracy,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that all schools are equal. Far from it - after accounting for SES, the best schools in each sector help their students make much faster progress in reading and numeracy than average.

“If we want to improve education outcomes at scale, we have to get much better at identifying what those schools are doing. Harnessing this variation is the key.”


NSW Police scrap controversial search targets after quota rise during pandemic

NSW Police have scrapped their controversial strategy of setting targets for carrying out personal searches and move-on powers, but not before increasing quotas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The use of numerical goals to monitor performance across police regions and commands has been criticised by legal bodies and civil libertarians as enabling the targeting of vulnerable groups, with the state’s former top prosecutor Nicholas Cowdery labelling the strategy as a distortion of law enforcement.

Mr Cowdery, an adjunct professor of law at Sydney University and a previous director of Public Prosecutions in NSW, welcomed the ditching of search and move-on targets – rebadged “community safety indicators” (CSI) by police last year – saying they could have “serious consequences for innocent citizens”.

“Police would be encouraged to put the worst construction on conduct that they observe to give them justification to conduct searches,” he said, adding a miscarriage of appropriate discretion could be severe for young and vulnerable people, particularly Indigenous Australians.

Police had 'no idea' about strip search laws, watchdog finds
According to NSW Police, the targets were removed for the 2021-22 financial year in line with the commissioner’s priorities for “prevention-focused policing”. No further comment was provided.

NSW Police previously faced heightened scrutiny over the legality of its strip-searching practices, including a public inquiry into several incidents of children being subjected to the procedure at music festivals.

A police spokesperson said the use of police powers, including search powers, were required to be done in accordance with the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.

Police increased their targets for carrying out personal searches and move-on powers during the pandemic while their use of those tactics fell markedly through the same period.

Officers had quotas to conduct more than 240,000 personal searches, issue nearly 110,000 move-on directions and detect 305,000 crimes in 2020-21, despite a fall in crime rates across most categories between 2019 and 2021.

Law enforcement persisted in pursuing quotas across a number of crimes during the pandemic, which saw historically low rates in some categories, with many other crimes remaining stable.

The police spokesperson said the indicators were an important assessment tool within COMPASS, the digital system that records incidents and targets, as it provided a three-year average of actual incident statistics across priority categories, to compare performance and identify trends.

“Where there are disparities – whether increased or decreased in comparison to a CSI – it is expected a commander would provide rationale and comparison of the pandemic impact when addressing and reporting on crime results. There is no punitive action in relation to CSIs,” the spokesperson said.

Overall search quotas were increased 1.8 per cent in the 2020-21 financial year, compared to 2019-20, but quotas for some parts of the state went up by far more.

Police were given targets to conduct 21 per cent more personal searches in Nepean in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20, while incidents fell by 24 per cent.

Greens MLC David Shoebridge said increasing targets for “invasive” personal searches by up to 21 per cent during a pandemic “shows how wrong these quotas are.”

“There is hope that with a new commissioner there will be a turn away from the very idea of policing to quotas,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The police spokesperson said preventative policing strategies, along with community engagement, played a significant role in the reduction of crime.

Search targets for Wollongong and Liverpool also increased by more than 15 per cent, while targets for Mount Druitt, Eastern Beaches and Campsie went up by more than 10 per cent. The incidents for those commands fell by between 6 and 20 per cent.

In Liverpool, targets for move-on directions - designed to order people out of public spaces - increased by 35 per cent despite their use decreasing by 22 per cent over the two financial years.

In Leichhardt, move-on targets increased by 21 per cent despite their use dropping by 31 per cent, and in Riverstone, in Sydney’s north-west, the target increased 20 per cent while the incidents dropped by double that.

While the overall target for detecting crimes fell by about 1.8 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 and targets for most individual crime categories fell or stayed the same, the target for drug detection (supply) increased by 11 per cent, from a total of 6364 detections across the state in 2019-20 to 9959 in 2020-21.

The overall incidents of drug detection fell by 1.5 per cent during that period.

The police spokesperson said despite the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on drug markets in the latter half of 2019–20, a number of records were set, including 38.5 tonnes of illicit drugs seized nationally.

“We make no apology for targeting those who participate in, or direct the activities of, criminal groups that impact on the safety of people in NSW,” the spokesperson said.

Asked about the effects of the pandemic on crime trends during a parliamentary hearing in September, retiring NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller said, overall, “crime is extremely low or extremely stable”.

“Property crime is certainly some of the lowest that we have seen in modern history. It sort-of has been fascinating to watch different factors, such as federal government injections of money into the economy and the movement of people,” Mr Fuller said during budget estimates.

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW and ACT acting Chief Executive Nadine Miles said setting targets “only incentivises police to take a heavy-handed approach and intervene in situations where their involvement may not be necessary”.

The internal data, obtained from NSW Police via freedom-of-information laws, also shows Newcastle City, Port Stephens-Hunter, Mid North Coast, New England, Chifley, and Central West districts all recorded an increase of more than 100 non-domestic violence-related assaults in 2021 compared to 2020, but all their targets for combating this crime were lowered.


‘A landlord’s market’: Big drop in rentals signals tough times for tenants

Rental vacancy rates around Australia continue to be low and will probably tighten further over 2022, with a new report signalling good returns for investors but terrible tidings for tenants.

Although the number of available rentals rose slightly in December, that is more a reflection of the traditional rental changeover period with the end of leases and increased choice overall, according to Domain’s monthly Rental Vacancy Rate Report.

With the national vacancy rate at 1.7 per cent in December – down nearly a third from 2.4 per cent this time last year – the general trend is for a decline in the new year as January’s typically strong demand puts the squeeze on available supply.

“We have seen the vacancy rate increase in most capital cities, except for Hobart and Adelaide, but then it’s expected to come back down,” said Domain chief of research and economics, Dr Nicola Powell. “It means that in some areas of Australia, particularly the smaller markets, it will be well-nigh impossible to find a home to rent.

“In most of the country, it’s a landlord’s market, which we say is when the rental vacancy rate is below 3 per cent, and in some areas there’s definitely a rental crisis. But Sydney and Melbourne have the most fragmented markets, with some suburbs much easier to find rentals in than others.”

The number of vacant properties nationally has shrunk from 54,000 dwellings in December 2020 to 37,000 in December 2021, a 31 per cent reduction, which will further serve to depress the rental vacancy rate.

That remains most taut in Hobart, at its continued historic low of 0.3 per cent, down from 0.5 per cent in December 2020. In Adelaide, it’s not much better at 0.4 per cent, three points lower than last year’s 0.7 per cent. Perth is only marginally higher at 0.6 per cent, compared to 0.9 per cent 12 months ago.

In Canberra, the rental vacancy rate is sitting at 1 per cent, as against 1.3 per cent last year, and in Brisbane at 1.3 per cent, down from 1.8 per cent. Darwin had the same rate of 1.3 per cent but was the only city to see an actual rise since last year, when it sat at just 1 per cent.

Compared to those, Sydney has a higher vacancy rate of 2.6 per cent, although much less than the 3.7 per cent recorded in December 2020, while Melbourne has the country’s highest rate overall of 3.2 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent.

“The smallest markets seem to be the ones most affected,” Dr Powell said. “Anyone trying to secure accommodation in Hobart is having huge problems, and especially those on lower incomes. It’s now been tight for some time.

“Adelaide is also hard, with its vacancy rate holding steady at its lowest point since Domain records began in 2017. Perth has had a real turnaround with the impact of the state border being closed for so long, and the impossibility of interstate migration and the end of fly-in, fly-out working.”

Sydney’s vacancy rate of 2.6 per cent is the highest level it’s been since May 2021, but at the same level recorded in March 2020. That was just before COVID-19 affected the city and caused a major surge in the vacancy rate. At the end of December, there were just over 15,000 vacant rental listings.

Different areas of Sydney often have marked differences in the number of homes for rent. The lowest number of listings are now in Camden, in the city’s south-west, at 0.3 per cent, and the figure is 0.5 per cent in each of Richmond-Windsor and nearby Wyong on the Central Coast.

On the other hand, there’s better news for tenants wanting to live in Ku-ring-gai in the north, where the vacancy rate sits at 4.2 per cent, Canterbury in the south-west where it’s 4 per cent and Parramatta in the west at 3.9 per cent.

In Melbourne, the vacancy rate is down 2 percentage points from the peak of December 2020 following the extended lockdown. There were just over 16,000 estimated vacant rentals at the end of last month.

In the Melbourne CBD, the area worst hit by the pandemic where the vacancy rate almost reached 14 per cent last year, that’s now shrunk to 4.5 per cent.

“I think that’s a mixture of landlords having sold off property with little prospect of international students coming back again in the near future, and people having been cooped up during the lockdown,” Dr Powell said. “They’re seeing how much rents have fallen and how much bang they can now get for their buck, and are moving out of shared households, now able to afford to live on their own.”

Vacancy rates are still tightest in the Mornington Peninsula at 0.4 per cent, Cardinia in the south-east at 0.6 per cent, and at 0.7 per cent in Sunbury and Frankston. They’re highest in Stonnington East at 6.3 per cent, Stonnington West at 5.3 per cent and Whitehorse West at 5.3 per cent.


Federal Opposition leader offers cautious policies on climate

Anthony Albanese says his climate change plan has struck the right balance to win over voters in regional Queensland, as he begins a week-long road trip from Cairns to Gladstone in a pre-election campaign in the crucial state.

While Labor’s climate change policies have been an electoral negative in the coal-rich state in the past decade, the Opposition Leader said he would visit resources projects and tell workers the future would be bright if he became prime minister. He will promise to deliver cheaper power bills to ramp up manufacturing in the state and keep the aluminium industry viable.

Mr Albanese said Labor’s climate plan had been “really well received” in North and Central Queensland, which swung heavily against Bill Shorten at the last election due to the party’s ambivalence over the coal industry and the Adani mine.

Mr Albanese’s 2030 emissions target of 43 per cent is similar to the 45 per cent target Mr Shorten took to the last poll.

But this time Labor will go to the election saying its plan would not close any coal mine or coal-fired power station earlier than the Coalition’s policies.

Mr Albanese will also have the cover of the Business Council of Australia calling for a 2030 target of 46-50 per cent – a far cry the group calling Mr Shorten’s 45 per cent target “economy wrecking” ahead of the last poll.

“It is an opportunity to end the climate wars by the election of a Labor government,” Mr Albanese told The Australian.

“It has received support from the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers Federation and (the) Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the ACTU and unions.

“That shows that we are where we needed to be.

“Business, industry and farmers want certainty to drive investment and Labor’s powering the nation plan will do just that. Queensland’s regions will particularly benefit from our plan.”

Mr Albanese arrived in Cairns on Thursday night, in the electorate of Leichhardt held by Liberal National MP Warren Entsch on a margin of 4.2 per cent.

On Friday, Mr Albanese will visit the Great Barrier Reef and talk up Labor’s plan to safeguard the natural wonder which is likely to come under strain from rising water temperatures due to climate change.

He will also visit the seats of Kennedy, Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn, all held by the Coalition, before campaigning in Brisbane electorates at the end of next week.

Labor has just eight out of 30 seats in Queensland, with Blair MP Shayne Neumann holding the only seat outside of Brisbane.

Mr Albanese said the pandemic highlighted the problems with insecure work and increasing casualisation, which has been a concern for Queensland miners given the growth of labour hire.

“Covid has shown the strength of our society but it has also shown a range of economic vulnerabilities,” he said. “Both for individual workers, in terms of secure work, people in casual employment have missed out.

“Whole sectors have missed out, particularly sectors important for Queensland. The tourism sector, agriculture has suffered from a lack of workers and supply chain issues, climate change continues to make communities and industries vulnerable.

“And the cuts to TAFE, universities and apprenticeships mean that people aren’t getting the opportunities to advance and to fulfil their aspirations which is what we want.”

Mr Albanese will look to exploit the tensions in national cabinet by telling Queenslanders that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had not supported them.

“The Palaszczuk government has done very well protecting Queenslanders during Covid but they have been let down by the Morrison government which has continued to attack Queensland rather than provide it with support,” he said.




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